There are over 10 million of them, they practice Islam and speak a language more similar to Turkish or Uzbek than to Chinese. We are talking about the Uighurs – the inhabitants of Xinjiang in western China. The Silk Road once ran through this land, and Kashgar was called the most beautiful city in Central Asia. What does the pearl of Uyghur culture look like today? As an ethnic minority in the world’s most populous country, can Uighurs even live freely without worrying about tomorrow?
Find out more about the Middle Kingdom by watching the program “Through China on Four Wheels” this Sunday, September 26, at 10:00 p.m. on the Polsat Doc channel.
Uighurs inhabit the most western areas of present-day China. As early as in antiquity there were records of nomadic people living in the desert area Takla Makan i Kashgar Basin. In the 9th century Uyghurs They have converted to a sedentary lifestyle and engaged in agriculture.
They are a people of Turkish originIn their facial features we can notice similar characteristics to Kyrgyz or Uzbeks. For centuries they have professed Islam, although their culture and tradition have also been strongly influenced by Buddhism.
It doesn’t take much to notice that Uighurs have little in common culturally with the Chinese. These differences have been a source of conflict since at least the 19th century. Currently, in the Xinjiang Xinjiang province, the Uighurs Uighurs make up only 45% of the population, slightly less Han Chinese. In addition, the province is inhabited by other national minorities such as the Tajiks. Tajiks.
Area Kashgar Basin was an important place on the Silk Silk Road. Thanks to this location, some cities grew to become major metropolises. Such was the case with Kashgarwhich until recently had the reputation of the most beautiful and best preserved traditional city in Central Asia.
Kashgar. The informal capital of the Uyghurs
Although it is not the largest city of the province, it definitely deserves to be called the cultural center of the Uyghurs. W Kashgar Uyghurs are the vast majority in Kashgar, and the city has retained the character of a trading town from medieval times. Unfortunately, recent actions of Beijing authorities are trying to erase the non-Chinese appearance of the metropolis.
After a strong earthquake in 2008, much of the old city was destroyed. However, instead of rebuilding the valuable buildings in the same style, the authorities decided to completely raze most of the houses and put in their place styleless blocks of flats, which dominate the landscape of of typical Chinese metropolises.
Global opinion, including European Commissionhave returned China attention not to forget the cultural heritage of the Uyghurs and to approach the issue of renovation with the utmost sensitivity Kashgar.
The city of half a million people is famous for several things that are hard to find in other parts of the world these days. It is in Kashgar that you will see mosquewhich is located in China. Our attention will also be drawn to the huge mausoleum in honor of Afaq Khoja, the political leader of Kashgarwho lived in the 17th century. The building is not much inferior in its beauty to the famous Taj Mahal in India.
W Kashgar for nearly two thousand years every Sunday is a huge bazaar. Its history dates back to the time when through the city ran Silk Road. Many traders from different lands came here to sell their goods. Kashgar Bazaar The Kashgar Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest in the world.
You can find out more about the Middle Kingdom by watching the program “Through China on four wheels” this Sunday, September 26 at 10:00 p.m. on Polsat Doc.
Uighurs. Re-education camps only for Islamists?
The aforementioned cultural differences between Uighurs i Chinese have also been the cause of many conflicts in recent years. Soft measures taken by the authorities in Beijing aimed at Sinicization Western China (through, among other things the mass immigration of Chinese from the east to disrupt Xinjiang’s ethnic structure) led to the formation of Islamist terrorist groups at the beginning of the 21st century. terrorist groups allegedly representing the interests of all Uyghurs.
Chinese Uighur camps: mass arrests and brainwashing
There have been a number of terrorist attacks between 2008 and 2015, which were organized by fundamentalist Uyghurs associated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, among others. The World Uyghur Congress strongly disavowed contact with terrorists and condemned the use of totalitarianism, religious intolerance and terrorism as elements of the policies pursued in Xinjiang.
In 2019, the activities of the so-called re-education camps within the province. According to media reports, they have been operating since 2017 and may be holding up to 1.5 million Uyghurs. Chinese authorities consider that only terrorists are held in the camps. World opinion strongly denies this, claiming that now Uighurs are being persecuted for their religion.
It has been discovered that the re-education camps are using cruel practices against the Islamic minority. The mistreatment of prisoners, torture, rape, sterilization of women and cultural genocideThe deliberate destruction of the ethnic identity of the Uyghurs and forcing them to convert to the “Chinese way of life” – this is just a small list of the crimes that are committed in the camps.
Many experts say without a shadow of a doubt that this is the largest cultural genocide in the world since the Holocaust.
The world’s reaction to the destruction of Uyghur culture
After the disclosure of the existence re-education camps, Uighurs around the world took to the streets to protest. Flags of the Middle Kingdom were torn down and set on fire outside the headquarters of Chinese diplomatic missions. Many Western powers openly acknowledged the crimes in Xinjiang as genocide and called on China to respect human rights.
The countries criticizing the actions of authorities in Beijing include the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands and also Poland. Among the countries that internationally defend China’s stance are Saudi Arabia, Russia, Pakistan and Venezuela. This juxtaposition is not surprising, since China’s defense was undertaken by countries that themselves have vast experience in persecuting minorities. What is surprising is that the extermination of Muslims is supported by other Muslim countries.
Is it easy today to be a Uighur? Definitely not. The province of Xinjiang Province Xinjiang Province occupies one sixth of China’s land area but is inhabited by only 25 million people. As it turns out, the authorities in Beijing are keen to make this western corner of the country ethnically pure. Hopefully, the culture and language of the Uyghur culture and language will survive the turmoil of war and persecution. For nearly 2,000 years they have managed to maintain their unity – may this continue now.
To learn more about the Middle Kingdom, watch “Through China on Four Wheels” this Sunday, September 26, at 10:00 p.m. on Polsat Dock.